Thursday, October 21, 2010

Traveling the Path: Acceptance

You cannot travel on the path

until you become the path itself. - Buddha

 

Become.  Changing is a part of becoming.  We all learn sooner or later that nothing is permanent here, to celebrate what you can when you can.  At any fleeting moment it can all pass.  We are warned not to let a day pass without telling the people you love that you love them. We are told not to take any of this journey for granted and that every moment we live is an opportunity to choose happiness.
  
Choose happiness?  How the heck do you choose happiness when it seems nothing but misery is at your every waking moment?  How does one choose happiness when they are in physical or emotional pain, when they can't put food on the table or when they're laid off for the umpteenth time in a bad economy?  How in the world can someone choose happiness when someone they love dies or their marriage ends?  I have learned that it's not easy but that it is in fact possible, a work in progress so to speak.  I have seen it become in my own life, as well as the lives of those I admire or care for.  

How does it happen?  It's easy in part and complex in part.  The easy way out is this:  Accept, Become Present, Choose Gratitude.  The complexities of it are below.  You see, I sincerely believe that gratitude is the fastest and most direct route to happiness.  Gratitude comes after acceptance.  Gratitude can change your feelings.  They say feelings are caused by thoughts.  I can see that for what it is, can you?  When we are down and out and thinking down thoughts or limiting thoughts we're feeling distraught, limitless or depressed.  Just as when we are thinking about good times, great memories or those that care for us we are content.   

So, if I change my thoughts I change my feelings.  Repeat that please.  Really?  Let me try that out. Wow, yeah, that does work.  Yes, I can use every opportunity I find throughout the day to just be gracious or joyful (be, did you catch that, becoming...be...redundant, yup).  I can enjoy the smell of my soap or shampoo, be glad I can still move my body and take care of it, admire the clouds and colors of the sky, be grateful for a good cup of coffee, a fun night out or a phone call from a friend.  I pick it.  This gratitude stuff is an opportunity by opportunity choice.  Problem for many of us, myself included, is that we're so caught up in our own business and internal crap dialogue we don't focus enough to accept, to be present and be grateful.  We also spend to much time resisting and fighting ourselves.

Being present has such a pay off though!  When we're present we remember that we don't mistakes, we just learn lessons.  We learn that we can rise up when we fall and bring ourselves back to center when we're sideways.  When we're present we remember we have choices in all things.  We learn to just let it be and get onto the fixing part.  Thank goodness we can fix our mistakes/change course my one dear friend said this week.  Exactly.  Thank you for the affirmation dear friend, I couldn't agree with you more.  

We can never loose sight that we have choice and that within that very valuable option we have the building blocks to not only effect our lives but the lives of those we love and share them with.  We do this best when we accept and are present.  It is not really something we come out of the womb with knowledge of either.

Think about it, most parents do not teach their kids how to love themselves, let alone how to be present or accepting.  Typically we become (read: learn) a nice little cocktail of the good and the bad (and sometimes not so much good out of either) of those who raise us.  We are told that we become the five people we spend the most time with. Thankfully, I was raised in an environment where someone amongst them did affirm that I was to love myself (Grandma Irene, yup, there she is again...).  Guess what, she was filled to the brim with gratitude too (no matter what crazy junk were going on in life).  She was the only one like this out of all of them around me.  Not that any of the others taught me to not love myself or be grateful, they were just trying to get through life like everyone else to realize that such things needed to be taught.  

It's not as if I haven't struggled with it myself despite this upbringing.  I can only imagine how tough it is to learn to love yourself when no one has ever loved you properly your entire life or when love has been linked to negative behaviors that really aren't love.  I guess this is why I'm driven to be so compassionate to those I care for who came from dysfunctional or broken homes.  I've been on both sides of the coin, loving and not loving myself and each day I have to make a conscious effort to keep on the right side.

By loving myself I've learned to do my best not to resist what is and that acceptance is the only answer.  By learning to accept I've opened myself up to being good to myself.  It's a two fold thing, one feeds into the other.  Once acceptance happens I become present and once I'm present I remember that I have a choice in my thoughts.  I therefore choose someone, something, somewhere, however far reaching I need to dig, to find a moment of gratitude.  

Once I'm in that state of mind I can spend time on fixing whatever it is that needs to be fixed vs wasting all that time on resisting whatever it is to begin with.  Know that acceptance doesn't mean that you're giving up, giving in or settling either.  It just means you get what is and that you're looking for solutions vs wasting energy and time fighting what you don't like.

If you're like me and you've learned the acceptance, becoming present and choosing gratitude part of the journey, I only ask that you tell someone else about it while you are breathing and still with us.  This is beneficial knowledge that needs to be shared. :)

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